Diary/Photo Journal


Weeks of February 13 - February 19, 2011

We were able to hang onto the last vestiges of sunshine on the Ilha de Santa Catarina while we stayed with a friend of Gerson's in Florianopolis.  Rodrigo and Gerson go back some 30 years and even though I did not understand the lightning fast Portuguese, I could tell by the laughter there were many stories recalled.

View from Rodrigo's apartment that
overlooked the Lagoa da Conceicao

Rodrigo and Gerson

Interesting path around the beaches

Men fishing from the rocks as they
dance around the many blowholes

Rodrigo and Gerson

Some of the fantastic coastline
of the island

Rodrigo gave us a bit of a beach tour and we had the opportunity to scramble over some rocks, pick our way through trees and step around blowholes along the coast. 

Excellent beaches - Praia de Armacao

Louise with the view of Praia da Joaquina

Rodrigo and Gerson on the
Praia da Joaquina

View to the port in the Lagoa
da Conceicao

Views of the Lagoa da Conceicao
and many of these homes are not
accessible by road and only by
boat, quite remote.

We were able to visit a couple of beaches and still get to the port for our anticipated boat trip.  The Lagoa da Conceicao (con-say-sown) is a fresh water lake in the middle of the island.  As there are many homes along the lagoa that do not have roads for access, there are several water taxis that cruise the lake, picking up and dropping off passengers at small water-taxi stands along the shore.

To our surprise, there were also a number of restaurants at one end of the lagoa that were only accessible by boat and it was at one of these homey places, we camped out for the rest of the day. 

While we were there, we found out that on that particular day, the locals were celebrating Nossa Senhora os Navegantes, a patron saint (or similar) for the boats and their crews.  A sizable boat parade (for the small lagoa) formed and proceeded to cruise up and down the lagoa to the enjoyment of the spectators. 

Just some of the views up and down
the lagoa and the restaurants
accessible only by boat.

A local fish was delicious

Rodrigo and Gerson just chillin'

The boat procession for celebrating
Nossa Senhora os Navegantes


What had intended to be a couple hour lunch, turned into a many hours' affair of eating (shrimp), relaxing, eating (fish), drinking (beer), eating (calamari), swimming, eating (pastels), drinking (caipirinhas) and dodging a horrific thunderstorm..  The violent change in the weather only added to what Gerson and I agreed to as being one of the best days we had in Brasil.  

Gerson and Rodrigo
enjoying their shady spot

Gerson cooling off

We watched and watched the sky be taken over by
this thunderstorm and literally could watch its
progress over the water and menacingly come
toward us. 

And, just as quickly as that, a beautiful sky returned

The rain finally caught up with us the next day and we dodged drizzle and showers all day.  We chose to take a "road" trip and explore the areas on the southern end of the island.  As these areas are not as popular with the tourists and thus, a tad more difficult to access, we wanted to spend the day among more of the island locals.

A little rain and the beaches are
cleared of people
Views to the southern areas of
Ilha Santa Catarina

Of course, traveling into an area that was a bit more remote, finding a "road" in which to drive upon was a little more challenging.  It did not help to be accompanied by rain and our passage surface to be red clay, which certainly equals "slippery".  Nonetheless, we trudged onward and were only championed by a rather steepish, muddied clay hill.

Several running starts could not propel our little 1.0 engine car up the hill and discarding the thought of trying the "Flintstone feet" (if you ever watched the cartoon 'The Flintstones', you know how they started their cars), we decided it was much better if we just slid back into a ditch.  From there, it was nursing the car backwards, inch-by-inch until we hit relatively flat ground and could turn around. 

Not to say that going back was easy, as we had floated through a very deep, muddy patch before which we were rather nervous about revisiting.  However, Gerson gunned our little engine that could and we literally glided over the sludge and with the steering wheel rigidly held and the tires locked straight ahead, we managed to avoid anything but what was referred to as "the road".

A little local color


The hill that bested us - it looks a lot
less threatening, but believe me, it was
a relentless foe

We left Florianopolis ready to take on (what was to be) our last week and took care of a few loose ends.  Of course, as loose ends do, you pull one and a whole passel of other loose ends join the fray.  As we had moved from Marjorie's home to that of our friends, Renato and Cinthia, we settled into their wonderful house outside of Barigui (I really like this part of Curitiba).

We stopped in to see the new Adega Boulevard, a third wine store that Gerson's brother-in-law, Carlos, opened with a partner and his son, Felipe.  It is a fantastic space that has its own parking, and if anyone has ever tried to park in a downtown area, dedicated parking is a BIG deal.  Although the business was a little slow, I have no doubt the store will be as much of a success as its original.

One of the reasons for going to Brasil and staying so long was to work with the management company of Gerson's small rental home to rid the home of its tenants.  The long term tenants had decided that they did not want to pay rent and for over nine months, they were living free in the home.  Unfortunately, Brasil is very pro-tenant and seemingly anti-owner (yet it is the owner that pays all the taxes, hires the workers, etc.) and evicting a tenant is a very laborious and expensive, not to mention a time-consuming affair.  As such, it can easily take well over a year to evict a tenant that is not paying rent.

So, Gerson and I decided that the management company was adhering a bit too timidly to the rules and we chose to enhance the tenants' opinion about moving out asap (as Gerson said) "American style".  All we did was knock on the outside gate/door and the windows a couple of times a day for a few days (with no answer) and the tenants, not knowing who was outside and clamoring to get in, got the message and moved out.

The new Adega Boulevard

Gerson's little home (where he grew up for
several years)

At Renato and Cinthia's home -
it comes with its own playmate for
Gerson.  Nico in all his ferocity.

Renato and Cinthia and Renato
enjoying his Black Label Whiskey
with the finest of imbibing manners

We had hoped the tenants would have moved out a few thousand Reais ago; however, their moving out two days before we were to leave presented us with a new challenge:  Do we continue to rent the home or do we sell the home?  Do we repair and restore the home or do we sell it as is?  Do we continue to use the same (somewhat useless) management company or do we hire another?  And, as part of the property, namely the garage, is rented to another tenant that uses it to park his cars from his next-door body shop, we have to consider that tenant in any purchase question (as an existing tenant has first right of refusal to buy the property they rent).

So, with all those balls juggling in the air, we decided that I was to go forth (or so I thought) with my plans to return to California on Sunday the 20th and Gerson would remain in Brasil to tackle all the loose ends.  Once decided, we were able to focus on our faux going away party on Saturday.

Gerson, Neto and Renato

Maria Lucia (Renato's sister-in-law
and Jose Carlos' sister),  Renato
and Jose Carlos

Lufe succumbing to peer pressure and
takes a shot of whiskey with Mauricio
Neto and Luis Renato cheering him on

Jose Carlos and Gerson - Gerson was
trying to skewer a leg of lamb using
his body as the brace

Renato, Jose Carlos, Gerson and

Renato's brother, Jacir, and Maria Lucia

A great party indeed!

Now, if I had a wicked mind, I would think that Gerson planned this tenant-timing so he could remain behind for a couple more weeks as Carnaval was looming on the near horizon.  But alas, I saw the events unfold first-hand and can only congratulate Gerson on his good fortune.

And, as luck (or rather, the weather gods) would have it, I received a couple of messages for me to call my 'boss' at the company that hires me out (or I should say, 'pimps' me out) for work and I was offered to start working in the Southern California on a large windstorm that blew through the area.  As I would be working from home, I agreed to the terrific opportunity and would literally hit the California ground running (after I prostrated myself and kissed that very same ground).

Well, as the weather gods are a fickle bunch with a rather distorted sense of humor, they delayed my flight out to Sao Paulo which in turn, would cause me to miss my flight to Chicago (which airport also took part in the weather's humor).  As a result, I endured three hours of back-and-forth at the Curitiba airport, a long call to the airlines and an even longer ride back to Renato and Cinthia's as my flight out was not be (and Gerson was none too happy about the experience - fortunately, when we got back to Renato's, Coxa, Gerson's most favorite local futebol team was winning and a cold beer was waiting, and he was once again, happy). 

So, I finish off my part of the trip to Brasil, somewhat tired, a bit frustrated, a little disappointed and greatly thankful.  Tired, as I have tussled with the airports and airlines for several hours.  Frustrated, as I have just spent 2 1/2 months moving through was seems like cold molasses to get things done.  Disappointed, as things have considerably changed in Brasil and a good portion of those changes have not been for the better (extreme prices, low quality of some food and goods, bad or lack of services, pollution, lack of security, horrible, horrible driving, etc.). 

And, Greatly thankful for the truly wonderful parts of our stay.  From Gerson's terrific and entertaining family (what is family if there is not a little drama to keep it interesting), to all the friends that welcomed us (and overfed us), from many of the lovely people we met anew to the beautiful places we visited and from just sitting at a bar/restaurant on a lagoa and watching nature in its extreme to realizing that no matter what, we human beings are really insignificant when compared to mother nature.

I had a great trip and especially, learned to appreciate my home (with all that encompasses) and especially my country, The Untied States (as me mum used to say "The Yanks could always get things done."  )

I end this part of my journal with this appropriate quote:

    "No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow."
                                                                                                                                                  Lin Yutang

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